It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we've journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
Out Of Print co-director Vivenne Roumani, Kindle co-creator Jason Merkoski & Strand Bookstore's Fred Bass discuss the future of books.
See the trailer for Out of Print here:
What happens when our exponentially changing world creates a crossroads for the way we ingest information? Will technology effectively make our youngest generation less able to engage in fully formed thought processes? If corporations are given increased agency to choose the information we consume, what will this mean for the future of literature? These questions are the base point of exploration for director Vivienne Roumani, through her documentary, Out of Print. She asked experts, scholars, and business people from around the world to weigh in on the history of printed material and the threats that the internet, copyright policies, and corporate greed has posed on the 500-year-old format.
Featuring the Strand's owner, Fred Bass, and narrated by Meryl Streep Out of Print is an apt analysis of a growing societal issue that will cause grave changes in the ways our children's children will learn to navigate their world. Vivienne will show clips of the film and share some of her discoveries from the documentary process.
Vivienne Roumani is an independent producer/director based in New York City. She brings to Out of Print a unique perspective gained as a director at the Library of Congress and the UC Berkeley Library, where she led digitization projects. Vivienne's previous documentary, The Last Jews of Libya, narrated by Isabella Rossellini, had its U.S. premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and was subsequently screened at major festivals and other venues around the world as well as on the Sundance channel.
Fred Bass will appear exclusively on this panel to talk about what he believes the future holds for the printed page. Fred is the son of the Strand's founder, Benjamin Bass, and is a lifelong, passionate booklover. Fred made the choice to move the Strand to its current location in 1957, where it still stands as New York City's beacon of literary wonder.
Joining Vivienne for the evening will be e-book expert Jason Merkoski, one of the minds behind devices like the Kindle. Trained in theoretical math at MIT, Jason is the author of Burning the Page.
Alice Hoffman, author of Survival Lessons, will chat with Ann Leary, author of The Good House on some of the life experiences that have led them to their current successes and what kinds of choices they've made for themselves along their individual journeys.
Praised by Toni Morrison as "..a major contribution to twenty-first century literature," Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers presented a tour de force of invention and careful detail. Now Alice, whose short fiction has been featured everywhere from the New York Times to The Kenyon Review, is releasing a volume of personal insights called Survival Lessons, which she says she wrote in order to remind herself of the beauty of life and the fact that even in the most adverse situations, a person still has choices to make.
Ann Leary, is the author of The Good House; An Innocent, A Broad; and Outtakes From a Marriage, an exceptional novel that is at turns hilarious and sobering. There's a scandal, some mysticism, babies, old houses, drinking, and desire—and a love story between two craggy sixty-somethings that's as real and sexy as you get.